Much have I spoken of the faded leaf;	
    Long have I listened to the wailing wind,	
And watched it ploughing through the heavy clouds,	
    For autumn charms my melancholy mind.	
 
When autumn comes, the poets sing a dirge:
    The year must perish; all the flowers are dead;	
The sheaves are gathered; and the mottled quail	
    Runs in the stubble, but the lark has fled!	
 
Still, autumn ushers in the Christmas cheer,	
    The holly-berries and the ivy-tree:
They weave a chaplet for the Old Year’s bier,	
    These waiting mourners do not sing for me!	
 
I find sweet peace in depths of autumn woods,	
    Where grow the ragged ferns and roughened moss;	
The naked, silent trees have taught me this,—
    The loss of beauty is not always loss!

More by Elizabeth Drew Stoddard

Closed

The crimson dawn breaks through the clouded east,
And waking breezes round the casement pipe;
They blow the globes of dew from opening buds,
And steal the odors of the sleeping flowers.
The swallow calls its young ones from the eaves,
To dart above their shadows on the lake,
Till its long rollers redden in the sun,
And bend the lances of the mirrored pines.
Who knows the miracle that brings the morn?
Still in my house I linger, though the night—
The night that hides me from myself is gone.
Light robes the world, but strips me bare again.
I will not follow on the paths of day.
I know the dregs within its crystal hours;
The bearers of my cups have served me well;
I drained them, and the bearers come no more.
Rise, morning, rise, for those believing souls
Who seek completion in day’s garish light.
My casement I will close, keep shut my door,
Till day and night are only dreams to me.

Christmas Comes Again

Let me be merry now, ’t is time;
     The season is at hand
For Christmas rhyme and Christmas chime,
     Close up, and form the band.

The winter fires still burn as bright,
     The lamp-light is as clear,
And since the dead are out of sight,
     What hinders Christmas cheer?

Why think or speak of that abyss
     In which lies all my Past?
High festival I need not miss,
     While song and jest shall last.

We’ll clink and drink on Christmas Eve,
     Our ghosts can feel no wrong;
They revelled ere they took their leave—
     Hearken, my Soldier’s Song:

“The morning air doth coldly pass,
Comrades, to the saddle spring;
The night more bitter cold will bring
Ere dying—ere dying.
Sweetheart, come, the parting glass;
Glass and sabre, clash, clash, clash,
Ere dying—ere dying.
Stirrup-cup and stirrup-kiss—
Do you hope the foe we’ll miss,
Sweetheart, for this loving kiss,
Ere dying—ere dying?”

The feasts and revels of the year
     Do ghosts remember long?
Even in memory come they here?
     Listen, my Sailor’s song:

“O my hearties. yo heave ho!
Anchor’s up in Jolly Bay—
Hey!
Pipes and swipes, hob and nob—
Hey!
Mermaid Bess and Dolphin Meg,
Paddle over Jolly Bay—
Hey!
Tars, haul in for Christmas Day,
For round the ’varsal deep we go;
Never church, never bell,
For to tell
Of Christmas Day.
Yo heave ho, my hearties O!
Haul in, mates, here we lay—
Hey!”

His sword is rusting in its sheath,
     His flag furled on the wall;
We’ll twine them with a holly-wreath,
     With green leaves cover all.

So clink and drink when falls the eve;
     But, comrades, hide from me
Their graves—I would not see them heave
     Beside me, like the sea.

Let not my brothers come again,
     As men dead in their prime;
Then hold my hands, forget my pain,
     And strike the Christmas chime.

March

Ho, wind of March, speed over sea,
     From mountains where the snows lie deep
     The cruel glaciers threatening creep,
And witness this, my jubilee!

Roar from the surf of boreal isles,
     Roar from the hidden, jagged steeps,
     Where the destroyer never sleeps;
Ring through the iceberg’s Gothic piles!

Voyage through space with your wild train,
     Harping its shrillest, searching tone,
     Or wailing deep its ancient moan,
And learn how impotent your reign.

Then hover by this garden bed,
     With all your willful power, behold,
     Just breaking from the leafy mould,
My little primrose lift its head!

Related Poems

The Christmas Holly

The holly! the holly! oh, twine it with bay—
   Come give the holly a song;
For it helps to drive stern winter away,
   With his garment so sombre and long.
It peeps through the trees with its berries of red,
   And its leaves of burnish’d green,
When the flowers and fruits have long been dead,
   And not even the daisy is seen,
Then sing to the holly, the Christmas holly,
   That hangs over peasant and king:
While we laugh and carouse ’neath its glitt’ring boughs,
   To the Christmas holly we’ll sing.

The gale may whistle, and frost may come,
   To fetter the gurgling rill;
The woods may be bare, and the warblers dumb—
   But the holly is beautiful still.
In the revel and light of princely halls,
   The bright holly-branch is found;
And its shadow falls on the lowliest walls,
   While the brimming horn goes round.
Then drink to the holly, &c.

The ivy lives long, but its home must be
   Where graves and ruins are spread;
There’s beauty about the cypress tree,
   But it flourishes near the dead:
The laurel the warrior’s brow may wreathe,
   But it tells of tears and blood.
I sing the holly, and who can breathe
   Aught of that that is not good?
Then sing to the holly, &c.